Our relationship with Tony Kanal is a special one, one that we are sincerely proud of. Since ’87 when he borrowed money from his Dad to buy his first Bass (a natural finish BB1600) to play shows after school, over 2 decades with ska/pop-rock legends No Doubt, to present day & the beautiful custom BB3000 we are about to introduce you to for his new band DREAMCAR, Kanal has always been killing it with a BB in hand.
In case you somehow missed it, DREAMCAR is Kanal’s current project with Adrian Young & Tom Dumont of No Doubt, with AFI front man Davey Havok on vocals. The quartet released their eighties inspired self titled debut album back in May, and have been taking their new sound out on the road almost non stop since then.
We were thrilled when Tony got in touch about a custom bass to celebrate DREAMCAR, and took the opportunity to find out more about the new band and, of course, to chat BB.
All of it was done in a very creative space without having any outside opinions to contend with. It was just four guys making music. That’s a real luxury to have.”
Yamaha Guitars : Hey Tony! Can you tell us how DREAMCAR came about?
Tony Kanal : As you may know, Tom, Adrian and I have been playing together for many years and it’s something we love to do. We have a really strong bond onstage and off-stage. We knew No Doubt was going into a hiatus so we said “Hey let’s do something new! Let’s work on some new music and keep playing”.
Davey and I would see each other in similar circles in Los Angeles; we eat at the same places and go to a lot of the same shows. Our bands had also crossed paths in the past. So I discussed with Tom and Adrian the idea of asking Davey to collaborate and they were totally into it. We invited Davey out to dinner and asked if he would be interested in working on music with us and he said yes, which was awesome.
We gave him four initial ideas and within a couple of days he sent them all back and we were like “whoa, there’s something really cool here!” So then we all went in the studio and started recording.
Here we are now with our self-titled debut album that came out in May. The entire studio experience was really creative and freeing. And we’ve had so much fun doing this.
YGs: What did Dreamcar bring out of you as a player?
TK: I think because nobody knew about what we were doing while we were in the studio working on this record, we didn’t really have any expectations to live up to. So we would just play in the moment – I know my bass playing was really of the moment! It was about having fun and recording what was coming out at the time. All of it was done in a very creative space without having any outside opinions to contend with.
It was just four guys making music. That’s a real luxury to have. I haven’t really felt that since the early days of No Doubt in the garage. So to be able to get back to that space was a great environment to be creative in.
YGs: How long did you guys go without a name and then how did you settle on DREAMCAR?
TK: We always joke that everything in this band has been easy except coming up with a name. All the songwriting has been fun, rehearsing and playing on stage has been easy and our camaraderie has been great, but coming up with the name was probably the toughest part. We didn’t really get the name till late last year. We went through a bunch of different ideas and every time an idea came up that all of us thought was cool, we’d revisit it a few days later and end up saying “I’m not sure if that’s the right thing”.
We eventually agreed on DREAMCAR after living with it for a minute. I’m really glad we chose it because it feels like a perfect representation of who we are and what we’ve created in our music.
YGs: So it’s been a little while since you’ve actually toured. What’s the tour been like now that you’re done with the first jaunt of it?
TK: For Tom, Adrian and myself it’s been many years since we’ve played club shows. We recently did a couple of shows at the Roxy in Los Angeles and if I’m doing the math correctly, the last time we were on that Roxy stage was 22 years prior to that. So it had been a long time. There’s something obviously beautiful about doing big shows, but there’s also something incredible about doing intimate club shows with all of the energy that is contained in small venues. It’s been nice to get back there again. Some of the stages are so tiny so you have to be really careful you don’t knock your band mates off the stage!
YGs: Your DREAMCAR bass is a 1984 BB3000 – but the look isn’t exactly standard. What’s the story behind the artwork?
TK: We had worked with a talented artist named Duane Diebolt a/k/a Master Control Program who did the fantastic artwork for the DREAMCAR album.
I wanted to create a custom DREAMCAR bass. So we took Duane’s artwork, with his permission of course, and put it on the bass. I just love the way it turned out. It’s beautiful.
YGs: So, what’s next for DREAMCAR?
TK: We are playing a handful of festivals and radio shows to round out the year. These include Austin City Limits, Lost Lakes Festival in Phoenix and Circle V in Los Angeles. All dates are listed on dreamcarmusic.com
And moving forward we’re going to continue to play live and at some point get back in the studio to write and record some more songs.
YGs: Cool. We look forward to hearing it! We have one more question: What’s the strangest thing about having to perform on TV?
TK: TV is interesting. Playing live is forgiving. It can be loose and you can have fun with it. But with TV, there’s a different energy in the room when you are standing there and you know you’ve got one take to get it right. TV is usually a very controlled, sterile environment. When you’re aware that it’s going to be recorded for posterity and will live on forever, it can definitely change your head space when those cameras turn on. It’s still a great nervous and anxious energy to experience although I never quite get used to it.
YGs Thanks Tony!
Learn more about DREAMCAR, give their album a listen & check tour dates: